Government Changes: Dahabi’s New Cabinet

I wanted to write a lengthy post about the changes in the new Dahabi government and halfway through I was overcome with a bit of despair. Despair in the never-changing status quo along with the realization that the mainstream media will be filled with profiles about the new political players, or the old ones – with their updated resumes and all. Instead, here’s my take.

The fact that these important ministerial portfolios were passed around like a hot potato all week is just plain embarrassing. Foreign Minister, Salah Bashir, who wasn’t honestly that great of a foreign minister to start with, was “offered” the justice or the industry and trade portfolio. And when I read that, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at our lagging political development. Imagine – the foreign, justice and the industry and trade portfolios: three very distinct fields requiring specific characteristics for each job to be done well, and they were offered to the same person. And that person opted to quit either in protest that he was being offered something outside the realms of his forte or because he perceived either job as a symbolic demotion/slap-in-the-face.

When it comes to media, Nasser Judeh has moved from the government spokesperson to the foreign ministry to replace Bashir, which is an interesting move simply because the two jobs are so similar in Jordan, which is sad. Meanwhile, former minister of information and editor-in-chief of Ad Dustour, Nabil Sharif, returns to fill Judeh’s shoes. Another interesting move that makes me wonder if his placement, complementing Ayman Safadi’s appointment as media department chief at the Royal Court, is any indication of a new road being paved – one that would lead to a better media environment, or lack there of.

Eid Fayez has left the building as minister of interior after what was beginning to feel like a lifetime appointment. I’m betting a lot of people breathed a sigh of relief at that decision.

Khaled Toukan is finally given a ministerial job he’s good at: the Minister of Energy and Nuclear Affairs.

As for the rest…

Most of the reshuffling operation was a brilliant display to all of us that once again, names prevail in the absence of real, tangible systems. Portfolios are thrown around almost carelessly, and a series of name jumbles emerges, attaching themselves to various positions of power. Of the many, very few are qualified for that specific job.

Moreover, I assume that after months of combing through a lengthy list of names somewhere in the corridors of the Royal Court – a list that I personally think is designed to appease many, many people with the promise that their turn will come someday – the choices came down to a 48-hour weekend in which the ex-cabinet put up a stink about their new portfolios. And if that’s true, as the papers are reporting, then I’m also assuming, that yesterday (Sunday), was pretty much a day when the old ministers had already packed up and handed in their keys. In other words, there was an absence of a Jordanian government for at least 24 hours.

The world did not crumble.

Go figure.

And in the end, it’s all about the names. The who’s who in government. In the absence of systems and proper political machinery, this is what you get: name-tagging.

But since we can’t elect our own government, because of course, Jordanians are just not “ready’ for democracy, then here’s a suggestion:

Why don’t cabinet reshuffles happen within a set time-span so that we, as citizens, can actually see the outcome of all the work that’s being done, or lack there of?

Better yet…

Why don’t new ministers go through publicly-televised confirmation hearings where we, as citizens, at least get to know who these ministers are, where they come from, and why they were chosen?

If the highest positions of power in the land that dictate a great deal about how we as citizens live are positions that we have no say in, the least that could happen is that we know who they are.

Beyond the mere listing of their names and resumes in the local papers as if that tells us everything we need to know.

These are of course just some of the many band aid solutions to the bleeding machinery that is the Jordanian government. No system. Just portfolios and names being (mis)matched like they were NBA draft picks. The new minister tosses out the old ministers plans and writes himself a new one, with the final edition being published just as another minister takes his place.

Rinse and repeat.

Do you feel the despair?


  • you’re kidding, right? Every time they change the government, it’s the same people… it reminds me of my time studying Italian post-WWII politics at Berkeley… they have had many governments (over 40 or 50) but 80% of the people are the same in all the governments… and they are ALL corrupt… sound familiar? Yeah… I thought so… honestly I find it funny that anyone cares who is in charge of the various portfolios of the Jordanian cabinet… for the most part it just means that people’s “wasta” has changed… that’s about it…

  • bull’s eye, I just hope that things will come to a change here, no one thinks it’ll be in the soon future, but at least we can wish for one to come

  • في الحقيحة نحن لا نعتمد على الديمقراطية بل نعتمد على اسماء العائلات. بدليل انك لو استعرضت اسماء الوزراء منذ نشأة الدولة لوجدت ان الكثير من الأجداد Ùˆ من ثم الأبناء Ùˆ بعد ذلك الأحفاد يتمركزون حول مراكز السلطة. في الحقيقة انه ولاء الوزير يكون لخدمة من وصله الى مركز القوة. فإذا كان الشعب، فسيكون همه الأول خدمة الشعب، Ùˆ اذا كانت العائلة فهمه الأول سيكون خدمة العائلة. هذه يذكرني قليلا في العصور الوسطى حيث على ابن النجار أن يكون نجار Ùˆ ابن التاجر لا يكون الا تاجر.

  • هذه الحركات القرعه ليست بجديد ولن تكون الاخيره.. السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه ،الى متى سيبقى الاستخفاف بعقول هذا الشعب المغلوب على أمره؟؟ كل هذه الحكومات المتعاقبه منذُ الخمسينيات أتت بمرسوم ملكي يفتقرالى الشرعيه الدستوريه والقانونيه في أن واحد..لايمكن أن نبقى في ترنح وتخبط مثل الرجل السكران الذي لا يعرف رأسه من أساسه، لقد طفح الكيل كما يقال في العاميه وبكفي مهازل وخوزعبلات وأفلام محروقه لئن التاريخ لن يغفر لي أحد

  • hamdi makes a good point that il wazara tends to run in the family ..

    also u made a good point in criticizing how foreign, trade, and justice are all three different fields yet were all available to the same guy ..
    but if you think that’s ridiculous .. take a look at rawabdeh’s cv .. someone posted it on mahjoob the other day and it really made me scratch my head like wow this guy knows everything ..

    he’s been among other things (the list is too long for me to write everything here) : wazeer difa3, muwasalat, health, iskan w ashgal 3ameh, tarbiyeh

    here is the source ..

  • yes. lots of it.
    its almost like playing ta2 ta2 ta2iyeh with our wizarat.
    somewhere they forgot that these are our lives, our taxes they decide on, our service they provide (or not.).
    They all look the same, dress the same, and speak the same. same accents, same attitudes. so i guess rotating ministries becomes part of that sameness. Because there is no substance – anywhere. it is just sameness.
    ta2 ta2 ta2iyeh had more flare. at least once in a while a kid would run quicker, sing it faster, provide creativity and get sparks flying.
    Our governments don’t even know how to play ta2 ta2 ta2iyeh in style.

  • I’m confused. It sounds like the government is able to go to a person and be like “hey you wanna do A, B, or C? Any of them is yours we don’t care what you pick.”

    Then, whatever is NOT picked by the candiate is still “up for grabs”.


    Are they all the same position to where it doesnt matter what you are in Jordan’s government?

    Like, the energy guy is also able to be the information or interior affairs or spokesperson?


  • I really hope that this is some kind of a typo,
    but the son of Areff Batayneh flipping posts with the son of Abdelhadi al-Majali takes the absurdity to a whole unprecedented level . Especially that al-Majali was involved in the corruption case of “sakan kareem”!

    If only the king knew…

  • Anyone has any idea what basem el salem credentials are when it comes to monetary policy? The shift from labor to monetary is more amazing than the shift of the son of majali to transportation..

  • إن خروج البشير وزير الخارجية كانت أخر مسمار في نعش الليبرالية الجديدة وا نهج باسم البهلوان

  • Khalid Toukan was not actually selected. His name and the name of the mutant new ministry was mentioned by Al Rai but luckily never laterialised. The term “nuclear affairs” is really obscure and I am afraid we are moving blindly towards a bad decision regarding nuclear energy.
    The fiasco of Bashir was really strange and the whole context relates back to the struggle of power last summer. I really miss the likes of Marwan Mouasher and Abdel Elah Al Khateeb as foreign ministers. Nancy Bakir has a more suitable job description now and I am happy Omar Razzaz was not sacrificed from the Social Security to the government. The same cannot be said about Salem Kaza’leh who has left the Ombudsman to be a minister with no clear mandate.

  • Such an amazing disregard to the intellect of the citizens. Nothing has changed since I left in 1989. Old fashioned and outdated medieval tactics are still used to hand pick most incompetent people to run a country. It guarantees the emergence of no alternative leadership ever!

  • Nas i think you have missed a really significant issue in the last cabinet adjustment, maybe what you said about the cabinet in general is true but you have missed that the new minister of political development which is Mousa Maaytah who is one of the most prominent leftists in jordan and was head of the social deomcratic party used to be a communist and got jailed and denied of travel for over 8 years that is before the democratic reform in 1989.. it is true that he developed his views to a more realistic european style of socialism which believes in democracy as the ultimate path to social reform but still in a country like jordan to appoint such a man with such a history is a giant step in the political system and of great signifigance…
    which could only mean that the government is really serious this time hopefully about political reform..

  • Dear SAM
    “most incompetent people to run a country”
    can i know on what basis did you get to that judgment. you said that you left jordan in 1989 so Do you know these people at all in order to judge them???
    can you give us a better list based on your obviously great expertise in local politics??!!which is over thn 19 years old!!!!

  • interesting comments and debate so far!

    just to address a few things here and there…

    Hamdi: you hit the nail on the head. this is exactly the point i was trying to highlight in my post. it was also partly a prayer that someday, the institution will matter more than the name.

    mo: there are other politicians with just as diverse a resume`, including rifai.

    deena: “ta2 ta2 ta2iyeh”…..nice 🙂

    musa: valid point

    mohanned: he used to run a company. same thing.

    batir: the khaled toukan thing i wrote before the final list was published. i miss muasher as well. for me, razzaz’s placement further blurs the line of the extent to which the ssc is independent.

    ammar: thank you for the comment and highlighting maaytah’s story, which is fairly known. the problem with what you said is that it only further emphasizes the notion that this is not a system of institutions, it is a system of family names. and when we say “a system of family names”, we are taking in to consideration that every cabinet change is, at best, a tightrope act that attempts to balance between injecting some change but doing it through symbolic gestures that are personified by tribal appeasement..two birds with one stone.

    and that’s at best.

  • At a meeting with top journalists a few months back, Prime Minister Nader Dahabi wanted to check media preferences as to whether the Ministry of Information should be revived after it was dissolved a few years back. Nabil Sharif, then chief editor of Ad dustour, clearly said; may i remind you that I was the last minister of information and I would not like to see it come back?. If you check his OPED in ad dustour, you will see many articles written by him rejecting the revival of the MoI.
    Months earlier, and during this summer political tug-of-war, when His Majesty King Abdullah gave an interview to Petra defending his reform policies, Dr. Sharif wrote an editorial entitled “what media is this”. In this editorial, he basically slammed journalists for speaking out against certain policies?
    so do you really think that HE Dr. Sharif will really push for greater media freedom?

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